NJ’s first back-to-school sales tax holiday begins Saturday

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TRENTON — New Jersey’s first sales tax holiday on back-to-school items begins Saturday and runs through Labor Day.

The state’s 6.625% sales tax suspension on certain items begins later than in other states with a similar program, some of which start their school years earlier but last longer than most.

It was approved as part of the new state budget, by a law that makes it an annual event. The change is expected to save consumers $75 million in taxes.

Fifteen states and Washington, DC currently have back-to-school sales tax exemptions, not including the five states that do not have sales tax.

Information compiled from Federation of Tax Administrators shows that New Jersey has much more expensive computers than any other state – up to $3,000 per device, double the nearest state.

The sales tax suspension lasts for 10 days, from August 27 to September 5. Some schools in New Jersey start their school year before the start of the programand even in the majority of schools that wait until after Labor Day, parents often start buying school supplies for their children earlier.

A Deloitte national survey conducted in May and June revealed that parents plan to spend an average of $661 on back-to-school purchases this year, up 8% from last year. But that includes clothing and footwear, which are already exempt from sales tax in New Jersey.

“As inflation remains a central concern, this sales tax exemption is one of the ways we are prioritizing affordability for our families,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “This holiday will reduce the cost of the most essential items needed for academic success and help make New Jersey more affordable.”

Assembly Republicans estimate that consumers will spend an average of about $434 on school supplies and electronics, removing tax-exempt items from the total. The tax saving on $434 would be $28.75.

The sales tax exemption applies to both physical stores and online sales, the state Treasury Department said.

The zero-rated supplies and equipment covered by the holiday include:

  • School suppliessuch as pens and pencils, notebooks and binders
  • School art suppliessuch as paints and brushes, clay and glazes
  • School teaching materialssuch as reference books, reference maps, globes, manuals and exercise books
  • Computers with a price below $3,000 and school computer equipmentsuch as computer storage equipment, printers, and personal digital assistants that sell for less than $1,000 per item
  • Sports or leisure equipmentincluding but not limited to ballet and tap shoes, baseball and hockey gloves, cleated or spiked athletic shoes, mouth guards, roller and ice skates, as well than sports and motorcycle helmets

For a complete list from the State Treasury Department, click here.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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